Scientists Plan To Release Genetically Modified Mosquitos In Florida And Texas

Live Science

Summer is just right around the bend, and while the world is struggling with thousands of problems, here’s another one for the books. It’s going to be a tough warm season as scientists have plans to release genetically modified mosquitos in Texas and Florida.

This is yet another first. The news is definitely of the bizarre and ridiculous sorts but yes, scientists have thought about the plan. Their end-goal is an attempt at disease control via a modern technological method called genetic engineering. Over time, the experts argue that this will definitely reduce the rise in next-generation mosquitos that may actually be more dangerous.

At the very helm of this mind-boggling project is a company called Oxitec. They had successfully acquired the permit from the US Environmental Protection Agency. The blueprint includes the release of millions of mosquitos that have been modified. The scientists claim to have successfully hacked the genes of the insects and in order to prove their theory, a specific number of these parasites will be released on a weekly basis for the next two years.


The experiment included the introduction of sterile breeds of mosquito species called Aedes Aegypti (called OX5034 by Oxitec). In the testing, the researchers behind the study believe that they have successfully interfered with the birth of a female offspring, which would thus lead to the eventual destruction of the whole wild population. In the end, diseases such as dengue, chikungunya, yellow fever, and the Zika virus will come to an end.

Mosquitos are the first in line of the widespread vector for disease transmission. They are, in fact, one of the deadliest creatures in the world. Hence, they have been the foremost contender for genetic engineering. Reality is, hundreds, if not thousands, of people worldwide contract mosquito-related diseases. Many of which lead to fatal consequences. In 2017 alone, malaria was the cause of 435,000 deaths, a number that has concerned health experts everywhere.

The government of Florida has noticed that their locals have been vulnerable to contracting the “West Nile virus disease, Eastern equine encephalitis, and St. Louis encephalitis.” The local administration also have recently added the chikungunya virus to its list of parasitic threats that have been wrought by these flying pests.

Scientists believe, according to their claim in The Conversation, “Genetic engineering offers an unprecedented opportunity for humans to reshape the fundamental structure of the biological world.” However, not every expert is in accordance with a new plan. A rather large alliance of biologists, geneticists, and bioethicists have expressed grave concerns over the present EPA’s ability to closely manage and regulate the deployment of these genetically modified mosquitos. And their concerns are well-backed by facts. They specifically pointed out the failure in a similar experiment that had been conducted in Brazil. The experts have decided to release the Frankenstein insects without further data and what could actually happen. Asa result, the experiment led to the creation of what they called “super-resilient genetic hybrids.” This clearly is proof that nature has a way of compensating for what had been lost, and this unexpected outcome will be beyond modern man’s control.


Scientists from Oxitec have also confessed to the fickleness of their experiment in this relatively new field. It may yield unpredictable results as seen in their writing, “…as new advances in genetic decoding and gene editing emerge with speed and enthusiasm, the ecological systems they would alter remain enormously complex and understudied.”

A public forum had also been set up in order to address Oxitec’s application. The result was an overwhelming number of unfavorable responses, many of whom claim that the citizens of Texas and Florida aren’t fully amenable to this seemingly groundbreaking idea.

There has been undeniable conflict between the polarizing parties. In order to address the issue, the Institute for Sustainability, Energy and Environment of Illinois Urbana-Champaign organized a what they call Critical Conversation. They had gathered opinions from academic, government, and nonprofit organizations on expert and risk management. At the end of the conference, they came up with three recommendations: first, there must be a government-funded open-source registry/database for GM organisms; second, there needed to be a third-party analysis to track the gene flow between GM and wild mosquitos, and their ecological competitors; and lastly, there must be a regulatory and funding support for an external advisory committee to review, and this should be comprised by people of diverse expertise and of local community representation.

The experts are extremely troubled with the lack of regulatory oversight by the EPA. They believe that all biological, ethical, and social considerations must first be carefully reviewed and measured because the new mosquito proteins may actually cause allergic reactions to some people.


What are your thoughts? Please comment below and share this news!

True Activist / Report a typo

Popular on True Activist